The Lingnan School By Ma, William H.
The Lingnan School was a school of modern Chinese painting, originating in and around the southern city of Guangzhou (known in the West as Canton) from the mid-1900s to the early 1950s, which used the traditional Chinese ink and brush medium. The term “Lingnan,” or “south of the ridges,” refers to the region corresponding to Guangdong Province today, with the capital at Guangzhou. The area was the home to many reformist thinkers and revolutionaries who eventually overthrew the last imperial dynasty, and among them were the three founders of the School: Chen Shuren (1884–1948) and the brothers Gao Jianfu (1879–1951) and Gao Qifeng (1889–1933). Unlike other modern Chinese art movements, the traditional medium was not abandoned but rather updated to serve Chinese modernism. While the techniques remained grounded in traditional Chinese painting, many of the subjects and visual effects were wholly new. New subjects such as spiders, airplanes, and ruins were included, and old subjects were reinvented to symbolize strong nationalist and political messages. A new sense of romanticism was achieved through the extensive use of atmospheric effects in the paintings.